Cayman Islands – Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac – A British Dependency
When people think of the Cayman Islands they are generally thinking of it being a Tax Haven, where companies and trusts are registered here for tax purposes. The Cayman Islands has a large number of Foreign Banks and funds management companies on the basis of its taxation policies and in Georgetown you will see a lot of medium high rise buildings in the centre of the city where these banks and finance companies are located.
Grand Cayman Island -
The three Cayman Islands are all small, the biggest being Grand Cayman where the Capital, Georgetown is located and it is here in the Harbour that most of the Cruise Ships berth for passengers to catch a tender (shuttle Boat) from the ship to the shore and wander through the streets of Georgetown to shop, eat or just wander The Cayman Islands National Museum is located at the corner of Shedden Road and Harbour Drive. The islands were first named by Christopher Columbus in 1503 as 'Las Tortugas'( Turtle Islands) due to the number of turtles that were seen here but the islands remained largely uninhabited with just a few ships anchoring here to catch turtles for their meat, and the first recorded settlers being in 1658 when a couple of Cromwell's ex-army soldiers settled here. Even today the islands have a permanent population of just 55,000 or so people.
There are also a large number of resort hotels stretching along the coastline, all with pools and beachside activities. There are a lot of water sports here too with windsurfing, paddle boarding and cruises off shore to see around the island and to see reefs or go diving or snorkelling.
If you have ever dreamed of seeing an underwater wreck, but don't want to go diving or get wet, then head to 30 S. Church Street in Georgetown where they take up to 48 passengers on the Atlantis submarine out to the reef to see the wreck of the Cali that sank in 1944 and the Balboa that sank in 1932. They do both day trips and night trips too and also have an underwater observatory too.
Most of the cruise ships can organise day tours of the island and if you are not staying for more than a day, this is the best way to see around the island. There is also the small town of Hell, which usually attracts people, just for the name and claiming rights to say "I've been to Hell and back".
Just outside Georgetown you will find you will find the Owen Roberts International Airport and running north from Georgetown there is the seven mile beach running along the coastline to Boatswain's Beach Marine Park with its aviary, saltwater lagoon, Cayman Green sea turtle pond and swimming pools.
The Cayman Islands offers great snorkelling and diving opportunities allowing you to get up close to fish, turtles and also sting rays. In North Sound there is a place they call Stingray City where you can feed the rays. It is a magical experience as their small mouths gently take the food being offered. They are really super cute as they glide by you, their giant wings outstretched.
Venturing south east along the coast about 5 miles (8km) you will come to a big stone building called Pedro St James built in 1790 using slave labour and now a National Historic site. Inside there is lots of information and memorabilia related to the Cayman Islands and its history.
If you like seeing tropical gardens, head to the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Gardens that cover an area of over 65 acres. Here in the gardens you will most likely see Blue Iguanas too. These large lizards can be over a metre or more in length, but are not known to eat people. At one stage it looked like they might become extinct, but today their numbers have recovered due to local conservation efforts.
Cayman Brac Island –
This island is long and narrow, just 12 kilometres long with high bluff cliffs on its north-east tip. The island is best known for its diving sites, birds, limestone caves, nature and hiking trails. There are a number of resort hotels here on the island too – and if you are looking to enjoy a quiet time and a bit of nature with beaches and a hotel pool to just lounge around then this is the place to do it.
The island is also well known as a great dive site, with a number of wrecks offshore too and there is an airport on the island called Sir Captain Charles Kirkconnell Airport.
Little Cayman Island -
This island is even smaller than Cayman Brac and its main claim to fame is the excellent diving and bird watching that is here. Most people will come here from Grand Cayman just on a day trip, or if they are serious divers or bird watchers. The main dive site is the Bloody Bay Wall Marine Park where the reef ends and drops down to the depths. The crystal clear water and great diving makes this one of the best dive sites in the Caribbean. On land there is the Booby Pond Nature Reserve where you can see thousands of red footed Boobies who live on the clifftops and fish off-shore, diving into the water to catch their fish.
The Cayman Islands has been hit at various times by hurricanes, but it remains as a popular tourist destination pretty much year round for people wanting to enjoy a great tropical island holiday.